Sebastian Vettel has romped to yet another pole position of the season, taking his seventh pole position in the eight rounds to-date this year with another commanding display at Valencia for this weekend’s European Grand Prix.
The German’s 22nd pole position moves him to tenth on the all-time list, just two more behind former triple World Champions Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet. It is also Vettel’s thirteenth consecutive front-row start, and the team’s ninth consecutive pole position.
Vettel will start tomorrow’s race alongside team-mate Mark Webber – who posted a late lap in Q3 to move up to second place on the grid – while Lewis Hamilton was able to deny Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso of third place on the grid.
With the top six completed by Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, Mercedes GP occupies the fourth row, having elected to make a single run for both Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The last two spots on the Q3 timesheets were completed by Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil – making his first top-ten appearance since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix – neither of whom registered a lap time in the final session.
It was an impressive performance from Sutil, who turfed Vitaly Petrov from a Q3 berth with a last-minute flying lap to provide the only real upset in the first two stages of knockout qualifying.
Sutil’s team-kate Paul di Resta shares the sixth row of the grid with Petrov, which was a solid result given his limited mileage this weekend.
Rubens Barrichello qualified thirteenth-fastest, one spot ahead of Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi. The sister cars of Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Pérez line up on the row behind, although Maldonado caused a brief red flag during Q2 when his Williams ground to a halt with a mechanical failure.
The last few minutes of Q1 threatened to create something of an upset, with Webber, Massa and Kobayashi all teetering on the brink of being a shock early casuality in a busy first qualifying session. Eventually it was Jaime Alguersuari who had yet another early bath in qualifying, and he will start from 18th place for tomorrow’s race. It is the third race on the trot where he has failed to make it out of Q1.
The tenth row of the grid comprises the two Team Lotus drivers – Heikki Kovalainen yet again getting the better of team-mate Jarno Trulli, who spun at the final corner on his last flying lap.
With both Virgins and HRTs comfortably lapping inside the 107% threshold, Vitantonio Liuzzi managed to qualify off the back row once again.
2011 European Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:39.116||1:37.305||1:36.975|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:39.956||1:38.058||1:37.163|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:39.244||1:37.727||1:37.380|
|6.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:39.453||1:37.749||1:37.645|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:39.266||1:38.373||1:38.231|
|8.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:39.198||1:38.365||1:38.245|
|10.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes||1:39.329||1:39.034||time|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes||1:39.852||1:39.422|
|13.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth||1:39.602||1:39.489|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:40.131||1:39.525|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth||1:39.690||1:39.645|
|16.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari||1:39.494||1:39.657|
|17.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:39.679||1:39.711|
|18.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:40.232|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus Renault||1:41.664|
|20.||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus Renault||1:42.234|
|21.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:42.553|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:43.584|
|23.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:43.735|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:44.363|
|107% CUT-OFF TIME||1:45.301|
[Image via LAT]